I have had The Record, the debut album of Indie supergroup Boygenius (composed of Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, and Lucy Dacus), on repeat since I first listened to it last May. I have been a fan of Bridgers for a couple of years and quickly fell in love with the sound, songwriting, and overall aesthetic of Boygenius as a band.
On Sept. 25, 2023, the band announced their new EP The Rest through an Instagram post. They slowly revealed the tracklist, playing a different one of the new tracks at their subsequent shows. At their fourth show since the announcement, at the iconic Madison Square Garden, the boys played all four of the new tracks for an excited crowd. A week and a half later, on Oct. 13, the songs were released for all of the world to enjoy.
Unsurprisingly, I enjoyed this EP upon first listening. Alongside the heart-wrenching lyrics and emotional vocals throughout, each track stands out on its own. A Boygenuis trademark, it is super cohesive, while still giving each member a moment to shine. With a runtime of only 12 minutes, it’s best to look at this EP track-by-track.
At an in-store performance at Fingerprints Music in Long Beach, California on Oct. 13, Baker spoke about the track, revealing that it was inspired by a news headline about a black hole that created stars, instead of destroying them.
The second this song started, I immediately felt like I was in space, a feeling that stayed with me throughout the project. Baker’s silky voice compliments the atmospheric song. The paradoxical nature of this odd black hole paired with lyrics like “bad boy…you’re a good guy” and “fake smile, decoys” greatly convey the sense of confusion and contradiction that the band is going through. If you have ever looked out at the vast sky and wondered what the purpose of life is, this song might resonate with you.
My favorite lyric: “Good day, good night, good talk, goodbye. It’s out of your hands, but have a safe flight.”
Between the first two tracks, listeners of The Rest get to enjoy a seamless transition, one you might not even realize has happened if you’re not paying attention.
Track two is a lot more of a narrative song than its predecessor. Led by Dacus, the track chronicles two people with wildly different perspectives on life. While Dacus’ friend enjoys a thrill, Dacus prefers to stay on the safer side. While this fills her fear of being labeled a coward, she comes to the conclusion that it is a privilege to know what you want and be able to achieve it.
It’s a feeling I know all too well: when someone tries to pressure you into doing “exciting” things that you’re not comfortable with. When anxiety gets in the way it’s difficult to feel adequate in any relationship. Dacus puts this into words perfectly, saying “I know I was a disappointment, know you wanted me to take a risk. Not everybody gets the chance to live a life that isn’t dangerous.” When faced with this, people often attempt to compromise or find balance. However, this often leads to even more fighting with relationships often being “stuck in entropy.” Dacus laments how painful these relationships can be at times, remarking that “it hurts to hope for more. Oh, it hurts to hope the future will be better than before.” “Afraid of Heights” is a uniquely relatable song, and one I will be thinking about for a while.
My favorite lyric: “I never rode a motorcycle, I’ve never smoked a cigarette. I wanna live a vibrant life, but I wanna die a boring death.”
Led by Bridgers, “Voyager” was a stand-out track for me upon first listen. As usual, Phoebe Bridgers has a way of writing about relationships that is oddly specific, yet simple and utterly painful. When I hit the play button on this track, my first thought was “Oh, I’m in space right now.” However, unlike the bouncy instrumental of “Black Hole,” “Voyager” provides airy harmonies that make me feel like I’m floating in zero gravity. This song reminds me of healing from heartbreak. There are days that are good and there are days where you just can’t help but recall everything that went wrong.
One of my favorite things about this track is its callbacks to other songs. The line “There are days spent tangled up together and sometimes, you let me read your mind” immediately reminded me of “Cool About It” from The Record, in which Bridgers sings “Once, I took your medication to know what it’s like and now I have to act like I can’t read your mind.” Bridgers sees the value in “reading the mind” of her partner, but can also pinpoint how this quality can quickly go sour. During the last verse of “Voyager,” Bridgers sings “Walkin’ alone in the city makes me feel like a man on the moon…You took it from me, but I would’ve given it to you.” This line is a direct callback to “Moon Song” on Bridgers’ 2020 album Punisher in which she sings “And if I could give you the moon, I would give you the moon.” In “Moon Song” Bridgers is desperate and would do anything to make her relationship with this person work. In “Voyager” she is sorrowful and reflective, wondering if she made the right moves. Overall, the track feels like a tiny tidbit of information Bridgers needed to get off her chest, and I’m super glad she did.
My favorite lyric: “Then there are nights you say you don’t remember when you stepped on the gas and you asked if I’m ready to die. You thought I’d never leave and I let you believe you were right”
The fourth and final track of this project is “Powers” a Baker-led ballad starting with a strumming guitar followed by an audible sigh, creating a sense of annoyance and frustration. Throughout the song, Baker longs for answers of where she got her “powers” from. Baker feels thrust into a complicated life with little to no clarity on why or how she is there. I wonder if this could be a metaphor for fame; you can be told you’re loved and amazing every day, but questions about life’s true purpose often still remain. It may also be a commentary on how perfectly the universe had to align for the supergroup to come together. The lines “The force of our impact, the fission, The hum of our contact, the sound of our collisions,” and the powerful trumpets that follow make the track a haunting send-off that I truly adore.
My favorite lyric: “Am I simply another of the universe’s failed experiments? Either way, I have been wonderin’ just how it is I have never heard the tale of how I got my powers.”
These four songs are a great addition to Boygenuis’ small, yet powerful discography. With a title like The Rest and a closing track so magnificently beautiful, some fans speculate that we might not get new music from Boygenuis for a while. I, for one, will continue to enjoy whatever it is that the Boys throw our way.